Coach Jack Capuano and a few players discussed the legacy Parise left behind following the Islanders optional skate Friday at Prudential Center, where they are scheduled to play the New Jersey Devils.
"J.P. was a good man; I first met him when I went to Shattuck and I was 14," Okposo said. "He was a coach of mine and I developed a relationship with him over time in those years. He was someone I turned to when I needed some help, guidance or advice, and he's going to be missed."
Okposo, who had 47 goals and 92 points in 65 games at Shattuck in 2004-05, said Parise always had the right words.
"I remember his coaching and how he got me going," he said. "It made no difference if I was struggling in life or was down on myself, he always seemed to have the right things to say. He could always make me laugh too."
Capuano was grateful for the opportunity to meet and talk hockey with Parise during alumni functions. Parise scored 22 goals for the Islanders in 1975-76 and 25 in '76-77. He scored the organization's first Stanley Cup series-winning goal 11 seconds into overtime in Game 3 of the preliminary-round series against the New York Rangers in 1975. The Islanders advanced to Game 7 of the semifinals, with Parise contributing eight goals and 16 points in 17 games.
"I'm fortunate because I get a chance to talk to a lot of the alumni and spend some time; we've done a lot of ceremonies at home, but when you hear about his name you hear about his character and leadership," Capuano said. "You hear about what kind of teammate he was and the big goal he scored against the Rangers. He battled the fight and he has tremendous family and support around him. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family."
"The whole hockey world knows his impact on the game and I feel for Zach and his family," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "I can't imagine what he is going through. Certainly J.P. was an impact player when he played for the Isles and Team Canada [in the 1972 Summit Series]. He did so many great things in his career and for minor hockey; he'll certainly be missed."